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Appeal Court affirms Donald Duke as SDP presidential candidate
THE Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke as the authentic presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), setting aside a former ruling by a Federal Capital Territory High Court which stopped Duke from parading himself as the SDP flagbearer.
The FCT High Court had declared Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information, as the winner of the SDP presidential primary election, even though Duke scored the highest number of votes.
Gana had gone to court to challenge Duke’s victory, citing the constitution of the SDP which provides that the national chairman of the party and the presidential candidate cannot come from the same region of the country.
He argued that since Olu Falae, the SDP National Chairman is from the Southern region of Nigeria, the party’s presidential candidate ought to have come from the North.
Justice Baba-Yusuf of the FCT High Court had agreed with Gana and ruled that Duke’s emergence “is a clear violation of the party’s constitution”.
But following an appeal of the matter, a three-man panel of Appeal Court justices led by Abdul Aboki, struck out the judgement of the high court, saying that the matter ought not to have been entertained in the first place.
The panel held that Gana’s argument which is based on section 18 of the party’s amended constitution contravenes the Electoral Acts stipulation for the validity of a candidate in any election.
The court also observed that the amendment which Gana relied upon did not take effect until October 8, 2018, which was two days after its ratification and the election of Duke as the party’s candidate in line with section 222 of the Electoral Act.